She’s a triple threat!
Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Ester Dean is one to watch! Following the success of co-starring in the second highest grossing music comedy film of all time, Pitch Perfect, earning the coveted BMI “Songwriter of the Year” Award, launching her very own production company and more, Dean is back for a second helping of success.
Recently, rolling out had the pleasure of catching up with the larger than life star, who dropped a few gems of wisdom on aspiring songwriters, got us geared up for Pitch Perfect 2 and gave us a little insight into what we can expect from her upcoming music.
Check it out below. – ruthie hawkins/@ruubabie
You’ve worked with a variety of big-name artists, including Nicki Minaj, Beyoncé, Rihanna, Katy Perry and the list goes on. Now, rumors have it that you and Rihanna are back in the studio working on her next album. What can we expect from her latest project?
Well, you know, I don’t quite know yet because I’ve been off the radar filming Pitch Perfect 2. We’ve definitely talked about doing some stuff but we haven’t created just yet. But we’re both definitely going to get back in the studio together soon. Rihanna has a lot going on right now with the production of the animation film she is involved with, so I’ve been trying to help more so with that aspect of her career right now and just making myself available in the studio for when she’e ready to go.
You starred in Pitch Perfect, which became a huge hit across the board and just finished filming Pitch Perfect 2, which is anticipated to hit theaters next year. What inspired you to transition from being a singer/songwriter to becoming an actress?
You know, I always wanted to do animation and voice overs. I did some work in Ice Age as the the Siren Sloth. But the difference between acting and music is, that I can write a song anywhere. But to do acting, it requires my presence. I have to be there 100% in order to deliver. So I feel like it actually gives me a balance in life.
How was it working with funny lady Elizabeth Banks?
Oh my God! So, during the filming of Pitch Perfect, I didn’t really get to work with Elizabeth because she was a producer so she was behind the scenes making sure everything was running smoothly. Jason Moore was the Director, so he was more hands on with the crew.
But this time, Elizabeth was the Director and it was just like a sisterhood. She really nurtured you and took on the role of a big sister. She’s super funny and I just admirer her so much. So anything she told me, it was “yes ma’am, whatever you say,” because she was so warm.
My experience working with Elizabeth really woke me up out of any fear I had going into taping. I have way more parts this time and you can expect much more music.
When I’m acting… I say that like I’ve been doing it my whole life when it’s just been twice, I feel like I’m home. It’s a crazy combination, music and acting but I love it. And I can’t wait for you all to see it. It’s going to be so good!
You have a lot going on. You just launched your very own publishing company, Dirty Publishing and you signed your first artist, Jasmine V. How did that come about? How did the two of you first link?
Well, Jasmine V came through a friend of mine, so she and her manager Gabby came through the studio [I have a studio in Santa Monica, California] and instantly, I was like this girl is really dope. Her background is nice. She’s been going at it for a long time and they wanted to be with a major.
And it’s so crazy because am I a major? No. Not at the time. But I can get her signed to a major? Yes. So I took her to Jimmy Iovine and had her sing a couple of my songs, one’s which he had already loved and he was like “Let’s do it!”
So, now she has a new song out “That’s Me Right There,” featuring Kendrick Lamar. And that’s when it hit me, I was like wow, this s— is really happening — it’s really happening. It’s an honor to even be in her life because Jas is very challenging. She’s a hard worker and an athlete.
When it comes down to it though, I think that my biggest struggle will be with my publishing company. I have two new songwriters, Lynniah Herron and Sophie Rose who Dr. Luke and I signed together and they’ll take more time to just show the ropes. They think that because they are signed to me, that they’re songs should come out tomorrow. But that’s not true, because they still need to be developed. They’re great song writers in theory, but you have to be a great radio song writer and that takes time and nurturing.
I want to be an example and a woman who does business with the men in the music industry. I don’t believe in gender segregation when it comes to my business. I say Dr. Luke is over there doing his thing and as a business woman, I’m going to work with him. As a business woman I’m going to work with Jay Brown. But that’s as a business woman. Now as a songwriter, I’m going to work with whoever I want to. One thing I make sure that I do in life, is keep business, business. No one wants to be up and coming at 50, without their business in order.
Will you be dropping another album anytime soon?
When it comes to my music, I’m like a kid on a playground. There are a lot of different things you can play with and I’m going to play on them all. I’m independent now, so I put out “Twerk’n 4 Berk’n (featuring Juicy J)” for fun. And I’m going to continue to drop music and put out E.P.’s for fun!
Music is fun. I don’t take it as serious as many people do. I look at music as a way to express yourself and now that I’m independent I can put it on iTunes. I can drop it on iTunes tomorrow because there is no one stopping me. Before, there were a lot of people stopping me. And whether it goes from 0-100 on the charts I don’t give a f—. It’s an avenue for me to express myself and at the same time, give fans what they want to hear. It’s a beautiful thing to be free!
What advice would you give aspring songwriters?
Stay as free as you can! Be around managers and labels who promote you repeatedly. Stay away from people who look at you as a check. At the end of the day, you’re 50% – 100% of that song, especially if labels and managers are working with free producers.
Stand up for yourself and your music. Always take your music with you! Have your own drive with your own music on your own drive. Record on your drive. Never, ever, ever walk away from your music.
And if they don’t want to give you the track, ask them for the acapella and the mp3, but never walk away without your work.
Write down your goals. Be positive. Know where you are going and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t. And that’s the honest God truth for everyone.
Follow Ester Dean on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter using the handle @EsterDean